The War Report Vol. 11, May 22, 2017

Welcome to The War Report, your weekly roundup of articles by James Drew, Defense Editor at Aviation Week & Space Technology.

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Articles from May 1-22

Boeing Still Tracking Toward First KC-46A Delivery This Year

Boeing is forging ahead with KC-46 Pegasus FAA airworthiness certification in the hopes of getting the aircraft certified for delivery to the U.S. Air Force by year’s end. The company is on the hook to deliver 18 combat-ready aircraft to the service’s first operational and training bases by “early 2018,” a revised timeline set down by the government in late 2016 when the program entered low-rate initial production…

Saab Wages Never-Surrender Global Gripen Campaign

As Saab prepares to fly its newest JAS 39 Gripen E-series aircraft some time in the next couple of months, the company still is waging determined international sales campaigns for its in-production C/D model. The aircraft manufacturer says three opportunities are on the near horizon: new C-models for Botswana in Africa and for NATO members Slovakia and Bulgaria in Eastern Europe. Elsewhere, Saab is offering either the Gripen C/D or E/F, depending on budget and capability, to Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Colombia, Finland, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Switzerland…

Saab Touts ‘Stealth-Killing’ GlobalEye, Anti-Sub Swordfish

As airborne and maritime threats get “smaller, faster and nastier,” Saab is ready to take on the special military missions market with its Bombardier Global 6000-based GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft and Swordfish submarine hunter…

Kratos Names Combat UAVs ‘Mako,’ ‘Valkyrie’

Kratos Defense & Security has settled on names for its two prized combat UAVs, dubbing them “Mako” (killer shark) and “Valkyrie” (chooser of the slain). The names for the UTAP-22 and XQ-222, respectively, keep with the Kratos tradition of using strong, powerful and some what hyperbolic names for itself and, apparently, its weapon systems…

Saab’s Monster Missile Prepped For Next-Gen Gripen

Saab’s beastly-looking anti-ship cruise missile, the RBS15, is to be upgraded and installed on Sweden’s new E-series JAS 39 Gripen and Visby-class corvette. The newest Robotsystem15 (RBS) Mark III is already operational as a surface-to-surface weapon for ships and coastal defense batteries, but the Swedish Air Force has not adopted a new air-launched model since the RBS15F in 1982. While today’s C-series Gripen can carry two RBS15Fs per sortie, the Gripen E that will soon make its first flight can carry four…

Sweden Eyeing Turboprop Trainer If Boeing/Saab Lose T-X

The Swedish Air Force has little interest in any of the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation T-X trainer candidates except the Boeing/Saab offer, but is not ready to rule them in or out as potential SK 60 replacements. Col. Magnus Liljegren, head of Swedish Air Force training and development, says a political decision has been made to extend the service life of the nation’s 40 antiquated SK 60/Saab 105 training aircraft from 2020 to 2025-26 so that Boeing and Saab’s “BTX” model for the $16 billion T-X program can be fully considered…

Trump’s Saudi Visit Firms S-70, Chinook, P-8 Deals

Lockheed Martin and Boeing have emerged as the big winners from U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, during which the U.S. inked approximately $110 billion in arms deals. After decades of procuring directly from the U.S., the nation of approximately 33 million people now wants local jobs and skills to come with its mega-purchases…

Evolve F/A-18E/F Rather Than Build New Fighter, Boeing Urges U.S. Navy

Boeing has cautioned the U.S. Navy against getting locked into another 20-year aircraft development program as it reaches for the F/A-XX, the service’s next carrier warplane. The company says continuing to evolve the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet through Block 3 beginning in fiscal 2019 and a potential Block 4 follow-on modernization program as a complement to the Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II is the most prudent path forward to satisfy an immediate need for greater numbers of strike fighters with advanced capabilities…

Boeing Begins Work On Next F-15 Software Load

Boeing has begun working on a new software load that will unlock new operational capabilities for the long-serving F-15C Eagle and F-15E Strike Eagle, as it fends off an F-15C/D retirement proposal by the U.S. Air Force. The software load, known as Suite 9, is common with the C- and E-models and is funded under a $434.8 million upgrade contract recently awarded to Boeing…

Boeing X-37B Returns After 718-Day Mystery Mission

The U.S. Air Force’s Boeing-built X-37B reusable spaceplane has touched down in Florida after spending 718 days in space. The landing concludes the Orbital Test Vehicle’s fourth and longest-duration mission. It is also the first time the X-37B has touched down on the U.S. Space Coast, specifically NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Space Shuttle landing site…

Aerojet Rocketdyne AR1 Passes Critical Design Review

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s proposed replacement for the Russian-build RD-180 rocket engine, the liquid-fueled AR1, has completed its critical design review. The milestone comes amid uncertainty about whether the U.S. Air Force will continue in its $800 million public-private partnership for full engine testing and certification if United Launch Alliance sides with the Blue Origin BE-4 engine for its future Vulcan rocket…

Race To Replace RD-180 At Critical Juncture

The rocket engine battle between the 500,000-lb.-thrust class Aerojet Rocketdyne AR1 and Blue Origin BE-4 is heating up, with the AR1 moving through a critical design review and the BE-4 due to conduct a full-scale hot-fire test. The kerosene AR1 and liquefied natural gas BE-4 are being pursued as alternatives to the United Launch Alliance Atlas V’s Russian-made RD-180 main engine for national security space launches under the U.S. Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program…

U.S. Air Force Lines Up Space Launch Vehicle Investments

The U.S. Air Force is heading back to the future, as it tries to retain competition in America’s national security space launch market while simultaneously weaning itself of the Russian RD-180-powered Atlas V rocket. The service is boldly going where it has gone before, back to the original formula for a competitive military space launch enterprise, but with fresh players…

Raytheon Wins 3DELRR Contract For Second Time

Raytheon has again won the U.S. Air Force’s program for a next-generation three-dimensional long-range radar, two years and seven months after an initial award. The engineering and manufacturing development contract delivers the first three “production-representative” radar systems by November 2020, more than two years later than previously hoped…

Boeing/Saab T-X To Be Built In St. Louis

Boeing will build its next-generation T-X training aircraft in St. Louis, where it already completes assembly and checkout of the F/A-18 and F-15. The company announced the decision on May 15, ending any speculation that it could open shop somewhere else to take advantage of generous financial incentives and lower wages offered by other states…

Boeing Nearing Contract For Block II Chinook

Boeing has reached a “handshake agreement” with the U.S. Army for the development of the future CH-47 Block II Chinook and expects a contract award within the next few months, the company says. Speaking at Boeing’s Chinook production headquarters here, company officials say the Army has already picked out three F-model aircraft that will be converted into the Block II configuration as prototypes for the four-year development program. The first of those three is at Summit Aviation in Delaware, where it is has been torn down for delivery to Boeing in pieces…

Boeing’s Arizona Apache Production Line Running Hot

Boeing is chasing potential AH-64E Apache sales opportunities with 10 different defense forces around the globe as it begins work on the first 38 of 50 UK models. The foreign military sales contract for the UK aircraft and three Longbow crew trainers was awarded on May 11 and is valued at $488 million. Boeing will deliver 38 aircraft by May 2024, and another contract for the final 12 is expected in the next few years…

 

U.S. Navy At Halfway Point In P-3C To P-8A Transition

The U.S. Navy’s premier submarine hunter, the Boeing P-8A Poseidon, is about halfway through replacing the 1960s-vintage Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion. The U.S.’s seventh of an eventual 12 P-8A patrol squadrons, and the first unit on the West Coast, the VP-4 “The Skinny Dragons,” has been cleared to begin flight operations with its two new Poseidons. Stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state, the unit was deemed “safe for flight” by the local P-8 transition team, VP-30 “Pro’s Nest,” on May 5…

Aviation Week Takes A Ride On Boeing/Leonardo’s MH-139

Boeing is going all-in with its new partner Leonardo Helicopters for the U.S. Air Force’s $2-3 billion UH-1N Huey Replacement competition. The company is pitching the U.S.-made MH-139, built in Philadelphia, to meet the service’s requirement for an aircraft with superior speed, range, payload, armaments and survivability equipment to replace the outdated Vietnam War-era “Twin Huey.” Boeing and Leonardo’s announcement in February that they would jointly bid for the 84-helicopter requirement was marred by the Boeing-branded demonstration aircraft’s inability to take off during a planned media flight at Washington Dulles International Airport on Feb. 25 due to a technical avionics malfunction. The companies’ second attempt on May 1 went flawlessly…

Raytheon SPY-6 Radar Enters Low-Rate Production

The U.S. Navy’s powerful new SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar (ADMR) has been approved for low-rate production at Raytheon’s plant in Andover, Massachusetts. The manufacturer announced this week that it has received the go-ahead from the U.S. government to begin production of the first batch of radars, funded through a $327 million fixed-price incentive (firm target) contract modification…

UAE Seeks $2 Billion In Patriot Missiles

The United Arab Emirates has requested up to 160 new Patriot missiles built by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon in a deal worth up to $2 billion if finalized. In a May 11 notification, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said the potential foreign military sale includes 60 Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) missiles built by Lockheed and another 100 Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical (GEM-T) from Raytheon…

Boeing’s Withdrawal Shakes Up U.S. Navy Missile Competition

The U.S. Navy program to arm the Littoral Combat Ship/Future Frigate (LCS/FF) with a long-range ship-killing missilehas narrowed to one near-certain entrant and two others on the ropes. Boeing says it will not bid on the Naval Sea Systems Command (Navsea)-led Over-The-Horizon Weapon System (OTH-WS) competition despite prior enthusiasm, removing its double-range Harpoon Block II+ missile from contention. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin says it is still assessing whether an adaptation of its air-launched Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (Lrasm) is a good fit for the competition.


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